Colin Cooper says Hartlepool United youngsters can still win first-team chance

Pools boss Colin Cooper
Pools boss Colin Cooper

COLIN Cooper has urged his Hartlepool United youngsters to seize their chance at Billingham Town this evening (kick-off 7pm).

The Pools boss and his squad make the short journey down the A19 for their penultimate pre-season friendly at Bedford Terrace.

Those on display will largely consist of the players who did not start against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

That should mean another opportunity for trialists Nialle Rodney and Michael Duckworth, as well as the likes of Josh Rowbotham, Greg Rutherford, Zak Boagey and Lewis Hawkins.

Pools face Preston North End at Victoria Park on Friday night, and an impressive display this evening could well be rewarded with involvement in that game.

“Those lads who weren’t involved on Saturday will play at Billingham – this is there opportunity,” Cooper explained to SportMail today.

“I want those boys to understand that nothing is sorted yet.

“So at Billingham, go and impress and they play against Preston on Friday.

“There’s nothing nailed on yet as far as I’m concerned – Scott (Flinders) aside!

“But everyone is still fighting for a spot – so how hard do they want to be in the starting XI against Rochdale?”

For striker Rodney, this week will probably represent his last chance to win a permanent stay at the Vic.

The 22-year-old has scored twice during pre-season but was unable to impact against Boro having been introduced in a wide position.

Cooper admits he would like to offer Rodney an opportunity at the club but concedes that finance could dictate otherwise.

Nonetheless, another eye-catching display at Billingham will do him no harm.

“I probably didn’t do him any favours putting him on when I did at that stage of the game on Saturday,” reflected Cooper.

“But Nialle is still here and if he proves good enough I will gladly give him a shot at it.

“He has another chance to impress.”